Following a preview at the start of June, Microsoft today began rolling out a redesigned Skype for iPhone app with a refined user interface and new capabilities such as chat bots, a Snapchat-like Highlights feature, message and in-call reactions, easier photo capture and more.

Aside from Microsoft’s own smart assistant Cortana, other chat bots now available or coming soon to Skype for iPhone include Gfycat, Giphy, MSN Weather, Bing, Polls, Expedia, Stubhub, BigOven, YouTube and Upworthy.

With in-call reactions, users can add live emoticons, live text and even real-time photos to an overlay that appears on their video and voice calls. Similarly, message reactions let you inform your chat participants how you feel by adding expressive reactions to your chats.

The new Home screen launches with your chat view, but you can now swipe left to get to the Skype camera or swipe right to show your Highlights. Speaking of which, Highlights is a new Snapchat-like feature that lets you share your day-to-day with friends and family on Skype while keeping up with what they are up to.

Your highlight is basically a collection of photos and videos that you can decorate with emojis and text. Only people who follow you on Skype can see your highlights.

You can also respond to others’ highlights by reacting with emoticons or even use them as a conversation starter. Unlike Snapchat, your published highlights remain live for a full week.

It remains to be seen if Highlights gains any traction given that every major chat app now has a similar feature of its own. Between Snapchat Stories, Facebook and Instagram Stories, I’m not sure I have the time to update Skype Highlights for my contacts on a daily basis.

Microsoft readily admits that Highlights is a Snapchat clone.

“There’s a new medium that has risen,” Amritansh Raghav, Corporate Vice President of Skype, said recently of Stories in a comment to TechCrunch. “When you think about this new way of interacting, we want that to be available also in this app.”

The new features are available in Skype for iPhone, but not in Skype for iPad. Skype for Mac and Windows computers will receive the new capabilities within the next few months.

According to Microsoft, a future version of Skype will integrate gaming features into video calls and users will have the ability to synchronize and watch streaming videos together.

Visit skype.com/new to learn more about the app’s latest feature additions.

Skype for iPhone and Skype for iPad are available free on App Store.

  • Bacillus

    OMG Rename it SkypeSnapShitChat and give us the original Skype back

  • As much as I wanted to like this new version of Skype I just can’t.

    It’s not available for the Mac (don’t know about Windows), the iPad (at least not the last time I checked), or the Windows Phone to name a few so LOTS of people aren’t going to be able to interact with your new features anyways.

    There still is 0 support for rich notifications. Want to pull down a notification and reply to a message? Yeah it’s still stuck in the old school way of doing things.

    Want to group and organize your contacts? Sorry all of that is gone. The one redeeming fact is that you can pin select chats to the top of the window if you have contacts you chat with on a regular basis.

    Want to swipe a conversation to hide it? Sorry, every conversation you’ve ever had in your life is now on your contact wall.

    Don’t care about Highlights and Capture Modes? Well you can’t turn them off.

    Liked the green indicator light that told you if the person you’re texting is online? It’s gone and replaced with the text “ACTIVE NOW” that can only be seen if you minimize the keyboard and get the header to expand.

    What happens if you’re chatting over audio and a timer goes off? Well it pauses the call. Is there a button to unpause it? Not that I could find. Had to hand up and call back any time there was a Skype pausing interruption.

    There is little consistency in how things work too. For instance if I go to type an emoji the Emoji button changes to a “A|” symbol to let me get back to the keyboard. But no other option switches to the keyboard button to get back meaning I either have to tap on the text field again, or switch to emoji to get the ability to go back to the keyboard.

    Anyways I could keep writing but I think you get the idea… Up to you if you want to update but if you’re looking for a snap chat I’d suggest getting snap chat. If you want Skype because you like Skype I’d recommend avoiding this update (at least for now)

  • Luiz Claudio Eudes Corrêa

    F*** that s***

    Now I use Viber for VoIP call (to phones) and Telegram to messages and calls, Skype is dead!

  • jabohn

    The new interface is terrible. Really hard on the eyes. I couldn’t find anywhere to change my status so I just signed out. Probably won’t use it much anymore.